Debating Foreign Affairs in Montreal

The Model UN group will attend the SSUNS conference in Montreal, Canada.

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Shaker takes on the world this week.

Fifty members of the Model United Nations club will debate foreign affairs with more than 1,000 other students in Montreal Nov. 6-9. They will attend the Secondary Schools’ United Nations Symposium Conference.

“In committee sessions you debate topics from the position of your country, person or organization,” said senior Isabel Kalafatis. In the sessions students write proposals to solve global problems. The full body later votes on the proposals.

SSUNS was first held in 1993 and was created to help high school students discuss global affairs and to encourage students to be leaders. Since the 1993 meeting, the organization has grown to become the largest Model UN conference in Canada attracting participants from all over the world. SSUNS meetings model the United Nations, an organization formed in 1945 by 51 countries in order to improve foreign relations and maintain international peace.

Prior to the conference, students research and write position papers to explain the issues assigned to their committees. In the papers, students propose actions on behalf of the countries they represent. Issues addressed in previous conferences include proposals for immigration reform to help Haitian citizens and proposals to resist cyber warfare from the perspective of the delegation of Canada.

Last year nine Shaker students received awards for their work in the conference. The students were recognized with best delegate and honorable mention awards, and Pieter Block received second place.

“Conferences are generally a time to use knowledge from practice — and also winging it skills,” said freshman Sophia Solganik.

Prior to the meeting the Model UN team participates in simulations and extensive research to prepare for the conference with their advisers, social studies teachers Amanda Ahrens and Tony Cuda.

“I am like the agent, and Mr. Cuda is like their coach,” said Ahrens, adding that that while she does most of the paperwork for the group, Cuda leads the simulations to help the students prepare for the conference.

Throughout the club’s stay in Montreal, the students will have a little down time. Students are allowed to travel in groups within walking distance of the hotel; in years past students they have played laser tag when not solving global issues.

“There’s also fun stuff to do in the city when we aren’t in committee,” said Kalafatis, “and there are typically dances as well.”

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